TVLINE | I’m calling Toby’s bluff. I think he’s infiltrating the ‘A’ Team as a way to help the girls.
I’m not so sure about that. You’re going to find out some stuff in Season 3B… Don’t forget what those girls did. No one stood up for him when he was put away in juvie hall because of Alison. Those other four girls were passive; no one defended him or did anything. Just remember that.
TVLINE | But your advice to fans would be to not jump to that conclusion?
Fans are going to learn more in 3B about Toby’s history and how he felt about being put away by Alison and her posse. The mystery of Toby, his motivation and why he’d do this to the girls is explored.
TVLINE | So, if fans were to go back and re-watch the series thus far, they would pick up on Bad Toby teases?
I think they could, yeah. They could find moments that make them question and really doubt; moments that will make you say, “Oh my gosh, has this person been playing them all along?” — particularly Spencer, obviously.
Now that the shock has gone away slightly, I think I should weigh in my thoughts on what this could all mean, and why they decided to go with Toby and not anyone else.
Toby was the one everyone least expected. He had already been the target of suspicions by the girls earlier in the first season, and he had been cleared due to Spencer getting closer to him and showing the rest of the girls that he has been as much of a victim as they have been. Since then he's been more involved with Spencer, and the girls, and hasn't been much part of the big action. Which is why this kind of reveal that somehow, he is involved with the "A" Team and that's there's more to the story with him than we knew previously. And I'll be honest, this is quite shocking to many of us because we loved (and still love) Toby and believed he was being truthful and not part of anything bad or horrible, which is why such a reveal is perfect.
I understand that some are pissed off and angry because it was practically a retcon of his character, Marlene King admitted that they didn't know they would reveal Toby until this season.
But my understanding with retcons is that it can have much potential if done well and makes sense to the overall character and their story and motivation.
On turning Toby: The theme we explore all the time on the show is "what appears to be isn't." So it was really fun to develop a character who really was the moral compass of the show. There were points at the end of Season 1 where we said that Toby is the only character in Rosewood who had never lied, and that was a truth to that point.
On Toby having true feelings for Spencer: That's the story we're going to tell [in the next part of the season] and you'll get a better sense of it.
If a retcon is believable and makes sense in context of what happened in the past, then it can definitely work. As mentioned in this interview they intend to explore deeper into that, so it's not just a random turning of a character from good to bad. There are motivations, there are reasons why this reveal happened and why Toby is doing what he's doing. So if done right, they can successfully pull it off. There is a reason why this was called a reveal of a "betrayer". Unlike the other suspects many have had on their radar for a while, this is a true betrayal of someone who is incredibly close with one of the girls and who they, or even the audience, would ever suspect in a million years.
I also think this brings into question the why. Why is Toby, and the "A" Team in general, going after the girls? Why on such an intimate level?
These interviews suggest that it's because of what happened in the past when Alison was still alive, the things they did when they were with her and those who got caught in Alison's manipulative game are making these girls pay for it. It sounds quite harsh, especially for something that happened in the past and that they've all realized and understand what Alison did, not just to others but to them during their friendship, was horrible and wrong and they've all changed their ways since then. But for others it's not as simple as forgiving and forgetting. Take Jenna Marshall, for example. She was blinded due to the nasty prank by Alison. The girls didn't do it, but they were there and were accessories to the crime, and therefore she believes they must pay for what happened. Also, let's not forget that even if they weren't the ones who did it, the girls have never directly apologized to Jenna for what happened. Not then, and certainly not even now after everything.
So regardless, there are reasons for someone to have a personal vendetta not just against Alison (which was taken care of), but for the rest of her posse. The girls might have grown up and moved on from those days, but the former victims of Alison's torments sure haven't forgotten the things that happened, hence the "A" Team was born.
In comparison I think about the entire premise of Revenge. Emily's entire life was destroyed because of the people who framed her father and had him killed, and she spends years mapping out a plan on getting revenge on those people who wronged her and her family. Even if these were people who weren't personally out to get her or were manipulated or coerced in doing what they did, they made the impact of the outcome much greater and were rewarded handsomely from the Grayson's because of it. In turn, she returns the favor by ruining their lives, their careers, their homes, everything for good. The girls from Pretty Little Liars never meant to cause any harm, but they never stopped or stood up to Alison when she played her little games, and the victims are deciding to get some sweet revenge for those dark days.
Toby is one of those victims. So with this reveal, even if it's shocking and seems out of left field, just remember that we still don't know much about Toby himself. We know certain things like the relationship between him and Jenna and how Alison essentially blackmailed him, but other than that there isn't much about what happened with him during those times, and how he got roped into all of this.
We're just gonna have to wait and see where this all leads to, and to be honest I'm kind of excited. I'm on the same league as Keegan:
I don't mind stories expanding the histories and backstories of characters by developing something that was mysterious and unexpected like this. But again, as long as they do so convincingly and that it makes sense to the continuity of the show, because otherwise it definitely would have been out of blue for no reason other than shock value for the audience and therefore a cop-out. But judging from the interviews so far, while they didn't anticipate it going in this direction previously they are having plans about it. Which means much potential is to be unraveled during the second half of the season, and I cannot wait to see how this affects the events that will be happening.
In short with everything I mentioned above, I know many people are still digesting what happened and have a variety of reactions to it, from confusion to being pissed off, which are all valid because such a reaction is precisely what the show was aiming for, after all. But personally, I'm more excited and enthralled by all of this. It really amps up the game of the show, imo.